Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alabama, Day 1: Fairhope to Weeks Bay and Back...

Slow Moving Morning...

Hot, tired, and dehydrated from the previous days' travel, it took me a while to get moving this morning. I went out side at roughly 5:20 am to recalibrate my GPS. I enjoyed the early morning darkness as the sun was hitting some of the higher atmosphere's clouds. Then at 5:30 I discovered I had locked myself out of the house. I eventually got my wife to let me back in. Then I had to finish putting air in my tires with my bike pump (I let the air out before I packed the bike for the plane). That was a pain. I eventually hit the road a little after 6:30 AM.


I headed south along Scenic 98. It follows the shoreline of Mobile Bay. I did an abbreviated version of the Route 11: "The Weeks Bay Loop" I found on this map It was flat. I was averaging in the mid 17 mph range. The scenery was nice. Not much traffic in these parts this early in the morning. I wasn't sure how far I was going to go, but I was feeling better the further I went. I got to the bridge that was closed last year and kept going. I decided to go all the way to Weeks Bay since I seemed to be feeling so good. It's a nice destination to aim for. So I did. Nothing there but an abandoned restaurant that was wreaked by a Hurricane and a bunch of fisherman.

Not so Flat...

I headed back via and inland route. Now they don't have hills like we have in New England, but they still seemed to suck some energy out of me. The hills are like the local accent, long, drawn out and easy going.

Local Group Ride Tomorrow...

Tomorrow I may join a group ride I heard about from a bike shop I've been in contact with here. They meet at 5:00 AM at a nearby McDonald's. Tomorrow I am told is the "No Drop" ride. That will be good. I'm not that used to all these flat roads. The nice thing about hills is that you can rest going down.

5:00 AM is pretty early. I hope I can make it. I think one of the reasons they ride so early is to avoid the heat, which can be oppressive around mid-day. The other is the traffic, which also can be oppressive around mid-day... ;-)

Weeks Bay

Morning sun

This is what they call a "Shoulder" here in Baldwin County Alabama.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

To Medfield, Walpole, and back...

Last Ride Before Alabama

I'm glad I was able to get a ride in before I had to pack up my bike for my trip to Fairhope, Alabama. I'll be there for a week and I don't often get a full week of unstructured time. A perfectly good reason to bring the bike.

Rain in Forecast...

The weather reports called for rain and thunderstorms in the forecast. However, judging by the radar patterns, it was mostly west and north. So I decided to ride east in order to increase my chances of staying dry.

The First Half Mile

The first half mile of most of my bike ride I usually circle back through the neighbor hood behind me. I like to do this just to make sure that there is nothing unexpected going on with the bike. It also put me near the top of a hill which is always a good starting point. Today I discovered that my neighbor who abuts the back of my property had a lemonade stand set up. I stopped, chatted, and made a point to swing by at the end of my ride. The frozen lemonade was a nice treat :-)

Lemonade Stand


I rode along Causeway Street in Millis/Medfield. It passes through the Rhododendron Reservation in Medfield. They appear to be in bloom.

Rhododendrons in Medfield...

More Rhododendrons in Medfield...


Near the end of my ride I heard thunder. I checked the radar on my phone (Mobile My-Cast) and saw some rain just to the west, but no "orange". I was in Norfolk on Fruit Street.

As I was doing this, another biker had just caught up to me and I mentioned it to him. His name was Scott and he lived nearby in Norfolk. I think he was near the beginning of his ride. He has a MS-150 Jersey on. He decided to head home. We rode together for a few miles as we were going in the same direction. Maybe I'll see him again as he lived really close by.

I must have just missed the rain because as I rode closer to Franklin (on Medway St.) the roads were freshly wet. They were wet all the way home, but I never saw any rain. Ominous clouds, yes. Rain, no.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Phat Tuesday

Just about perfect weather...

The Tuesday Evening Ride...

I look forward to these Tuesday evening rides. I've ridden with bike clubs on long weekend rides, but they never seem very social and those long group rides eventually devolve into just a bunch of solo riders all going int he same direction. This Tuesday evening ride has a much different vibe. A smaller group of (very local) riders doing the same route week in and week out offers the opportunity to constantly see a lot of familiar faces. It lends itself to a more "Social" atmosphere. Pre-ride start reminds me of hanging out in the paddock at the Auto Cross events I used to go to. Right down to the point of chatting with someone while they are in the process of wiping debris off of their tires... I'm starting to put more names to faces now. Some of these faces I've seen on my weekend solo rides.

Too Fast for my own Good...

When the group made the left onto RT 121 in Sheldonville/West Wrentham, a gap formed instantly between the fast group and everyone else due to traffic. I, however, was able to slip onto 121 and close the gap. I was able to makeup a lot of group simply my maintaining an aggressive pace and late apexing ?


Turning into a corner late and missing the optimum apex point in order to straighten out the last part of the corner. This allows the driver to accelerate earlier and harder, gaining maximum speed down the next straight.

the next two turns in order to carry my momentum and maintain my speed. I made up the most ground using with the latter technique. Once I caught up with the fast group I knew I was in over my head. I also knew this when I was closing the gap, but there was a gap to be closed ;-)

I got dropped about a mile after closing the gap. I eased up so I would have energy to keep up with the 2nd group when they reeled me in @ mile 5.14. Not enough apparently as I got dropped from them on Fales St. only 2 miles later.

At mile 7.8 on High St. I latched onto a 3rd group of riders. I was able to hang with this group all the way to the rest stop, even taking a turn pulling on RT 120. My self and the rider pictured below even broke away from that group on the long climb on RT 120 as it approached the Mass-RI border. At which point we regrouped.

I can keep up with this guy, barely. (I didn't catch his name) I can see why he commented on my Harpoon shirt on my first ride with the group :-) (I'm not sure when his friend on the right is doing though...)

19.9 mph Average at the half-way resting point.

Solo Phat Ride...

After the rest stop at the halfway point, I headed out a little too early and got stuck in the middle of the huge gap between the fast and the not-so fast. Essentially at this point, it became a fast a solo ride with riders disappearing in front of me and other riders reeling me in over the next 7 miles all the way to Mount St.

All-in-all another good ride. I find myself steadily improving each ride as I learn to pace myself and focus better.

My Phat Ride Stats
Date Distance Time Avg Mph MAX Mph
June 12, 2007 25.24 1:23:38 18.1 36.2
June 26, 2007 25.25 1:24:51 17.9 36.3
July 10, 2007 25.20 1:21:14 18.6 35.7
July 24, 2007 25.26 1:22:17 18.4 37.9

Sunday, July 22, 2007

To Holliston and back (via Norfolk)

Another essentially perfect day.

  1. Mowed the Lawn - Check
  2. Trimmed the Forsythia bush - Check
  3. Spent time with family - Check
  4. Still time for an afternoon ride? Check

After getting my chores done and having fun with my two daughters, I had just under a couple of hours to slip in another ride. ELizabeth (1.5) and my wife were going to take a nap and Catherine (5.5) was going to have some quiet time (she doesn't nap anymore). I geared up and headed out.

Making new Lines...

Just about every time I head out for a ride I try to make it a point to "add some new lines" to my map. I track every ride and then add them to my Google Earth file. My North Western quadrant (Franklin, MA being the origin) was empty. The City of Milford and Route 495 are difficult obsticles to get around. At least until the Upper Charles River Trail gets completed. So I headed north-west for a change. The plan was to make my way up to Rt 16, head east to the center of Holliston, and play it by ear from there.

So that's what I did. I didn't have as much trouble crossing RT 126 or RT 109 as I thought I would. Once I was on Fisher St. in Medway I was far from any traffic. Right after the end of Fisher St. after I made the right onto South St. I saw where the proposed Upper Charles River Trail was going to be. Right now that section is a dirt path suitable only for Mountain Bikes. It looked well worn so I imagine that it is currently being taken advantage of my trail bikes (why not, if nobody else is using it now...).

Right Knee...

Before I set out, I made sure to raise my seat a little to help resolve the pain in my right knee. Apparently I raised it just enough. The Patellar Tendonitis that was acting up in my right knee yesterday was no longer a problem.

All-in-all it was a good afternoon ride where I got to cover some new territory and make it home in time before my youngest daughter woke up from her nap. :-)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

To Cumberland Hill, RI and Back...

What a morning for a ride! It was hard to believe that it was mid-July and the sky was crystal clear with puffy cloulds and there was a chill in the airr as I headed out for an early morning bike ride (6:47 am). I would have headed out earlier, but I had to pay some bills first. It felt like a perfect September day, only in July.

Diamond Hill Reservoir.

South into Rhode Island

This morning I decided to head south in Rhode Island. Instead of just skimming the norther part of Cumberland, RI or climbing Tower Hill Road, I pushed just a bit further south to RT 120 (Nathan Whipple Highway). Nathan Whipple must be a local historical figure with a lot of family in the region. I say this because I knew a Nate Whipple from my autocross days way before I even came across this road.

Anyway... I passed through Cumberland Hill, RI, and there I headed back north on West Wrentham road. This is a saner way to climb Tower Hill, but not as gratifying ;-)

I was close to the Blackstone River Bike Path. Maybe I'll take advantage of that on a future ride.

Pan Mass Challenge Route Sign...

I came back via Lake st in Bellingham. This is a very familiar road to me as I often include it in my southerly routes. However this is the first time I saw a "permanent" route marker sign for the PMC (Pan Mass Challenge):

PMC Sign coming off of Lake St. onto Maple...

I know the route that the PMC takes through Bellingham and Franklin (and some of the surrounding towns). I've seent the neon green/yellow arrow signs that mark the route. However this is the first time I've seen a permanent sign. Maybe I haven't noticed it before, but in any case it was a good excuse to stop and take a picture.

Right Knee...

A while back I was having issues with my left knee which turned out to be Patellar Tendonitis. Raising my seat a little fixed that. However now I am having the same issue with my right knee. Maybe tomorrow I'll try raising my seat some more.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

26 Mile Loop via Wrentham Forest

Nice day for a ride. I headed out mid-day with no planned route in mind. Sometimes it is good to wing it. I started out going through Medway and Norfolk on familiar roads and then decided to go through Wrentham and pass go through the Wrentham Forest.

After I went through the forest, I was in unfamiliar territory. I had a vague idea of how the roads in the area were laid out, but only vague. I wound up on some nice back roads just on the outside of 495. I eventually made it back to route 1 coming out right by the Wrentham Outlets. I headed south towards Plainville and took the first right I came upon. I knew there was a road behind the outlets that cut up to Rt. 121 and back into familiar territory.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Hot Phat Ride

Tonight was a hot one. I think the temperatures was in the high 80's to lower 90's. I recalled some mentioning of "taking it easy" due to the heat. Heh. I don't think that happened. At the halfway point my bike computer registered an average speed of 19.9 mph.(My overall average was 18.6 mph.) That was my speed despite getting dropped by the lead group @ miles ~6.5 and the second lead group at ~10.5 miles. One of these days I won't get dropped. Last time I got dropped by the majority @ ~4.6 miles. I paced myself better this time and made a point to not be in the front. However, after the halfway break I found myself in the front during the 2nd half warm-up. A tactical error that cost me.

No GPS track for this ride as my Garmin eTrex Legend "self powered down" a couple of times.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Wildwood NJ Sunrise Ride

Early morning ride around Cape May...

Knowing I was going to be spending some time in Wildwood Crest, NJ I searched MapMyRun.com for some rides in the area. I did manage to do one ride while I was there. I found the CQUAD.com Township Loop on MapMyRun.com. It was a good route. I didn't stay completely true to the route, diverging here and there. I wanted the start to be close to the shore (and at 6:00 AM, traffic wasn't a concern...). I also jumped on a bike path for a change of pace. Part of this route retraced last year's High Point to Cape May Ride.

First biker spotting...

Friendly old man who checked in on me as I was adjusting my seat height.

It was so early when I started, that it took a while before I saw another biker. It happened to be an old man moving along like he didn't have a care in the world. I had stopped to adjust my seat height and he asked me if everything was OK.

Cold Spring Bike Path on Cape May

Cold Spring Bike Path

I decided to jump on the Cold Spring Bike Path for a change of pace. I had ridden the on road route last year and traffic was starting to pick up on the road.

First Road Biker...

I drafted him, but we didn't talk.

As I came up to an intersection on the bike path I saw another road biker headed in the same direction on Route 9 (runs parallel to path). I jumped off the path and caught up to him. He knew I was behind him but he didn't say anything. So I respected his solitude and kept quiet. Once we got on the Garden State Parkway (yes, you read correctly...) he continued south while I headed east back to Wildwood Crest. While I was waiting at the light, I saw another biker come north and turn onto the road I was turning onto...

Reeling in another biker...

It was a long light so he got a bit ahead of me. I paced myself and began reeling him in without overexerting myself.


This Biker I chatted with...

I caught him. We chatted. He was just headed out while I was just wrapping up. He was coming from the town of Cape May and was going to ride the Wildwood Boardwalk and then head up to Avalon

My New Shirt!

Last but not least, I wore my new bike jersey for this ride. It was a birthday present from my family who are visiting from Germany.